Joining the group of nations that see the warming planet as an existential threat to humanity, Indonesia has set a unified net-zero target to be implemented across industrial sectors to realise its Paris Agreement commitments.

The country has updated its nationally determined contribution (NDC) to the agreement, taking into account ocean and marine issues in its emissions strategy.

Confirming its first NDC pledge from 2016, the government said it aimed to reduce emissions by 29 per cent independently or by 41 per cent with international assistance by 2030.

Ministries and state agencies have agreed to set the net-zero target date at 2060 after months of discussion among government institutions, many of which are reluctant to give up coal.

The updated NDC and long-term strategy (LTS) documents have been submitted to the UN Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) secretariat ahead of the 2021 UN Climate Change Conference, COP26, in November.

Minister of Maritime Affairs and Investment Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan said the country’s net-zero target could be achieved even earlier if supported by ample technological development and international financial support.

“I am very optimistic that we can reach net zero by 2060 or even earlier,” Luhut said during an online discussion.

Indonesia, along with more than 190 countries, adopted the Paris Agreement in 2015 with the overarching aim of keeping the rise in the average global temperature below 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Some 31 countries have communicated their long-term emissions reduction strategies to the UNFCCC, with most aiming to have net-zero emissions by 2050.

According to the updated NDC, Indonesia is betting on the forestry and land use sector and the energy sector to contribute the most to the emissions reduction target, with the former accounting for 24.5 per cent of the figure, equal to 692 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (MtonCO2e), and the latter accounting for 15.5 per cent or 441MtonCO2e.

The government aims have the forestry sector to surpass carbon neutrality to become a net carbon sink by 2030.

Deputy Minister Environment and Forestry Alue Dohong said: “We are on the right track, as we already have the corrective measures [to reach a net sink], such as preventing deforestation.”

The Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources has projected that the energy sector will reach net zero by 2060. At that time, renewables are expected to make up 85 per cent of the energy mix, while nuclear power is to make up 14 per cent. By 2030, coal is expected to provide 62 per cent of the energy mix, with renewables supplying 36 per cent.

“We will phase out coal fired power plants once their contracts [with the government] end,” said Luhut.

Luhut added that the government would need as much as $1.165 trillion in investment to transition away from coal.

Minister of Finance Sri Mulyani said the emissions reduction target needed money like any other government project and that to reach the 2030 NDC target alone, the country would need at least 4.52 quadrillion rupiah ($310 billion).

She said the government had earmarked around 4.1 per cent of the state budget for emissions reduction efforts.

Between 2018 and 2020, some 102.6 trillion rupiah was set aside from the national budget, although it only covered one third of the projected costs of emissions reduction projects for that period.

“That is why reaching the NDC commitment cannot be done by the government alone. We also need corporations, ordinary people and the whole ecosystem to pitch in,” Sri Mulyani said.

In remarks at the US Office of the Director of National Intelligence, US President Joe Biden said climate change was an “existential threat” that would drive cooperation among nations.

He also emphasised that Indonesia was particularly prone to climate risks.

“But what happens – what happens in Indonesia if the projections are correct that in the next 10 years they may have to move their capital because they’re going to be underwater?” he said on July 27.

Under Biden, the US has rejoined the global climate fight and reinforced its net-zero emissions goal.

Environmental activists have criticised Indonesia’s climate targets, calling them “less ambitious” than what is required given the country’s climactic precarity.

“We have witnessed increases in meteorological disasters this year. Without the government’s response, these disasters will occur more frequently and intensively because of climate change,” Indonesian Center for Environmental Law researcher Grita Anindarini told the Jakarta Post.

Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi) climate campaigner Yuyun Harmono said the government should have been more ambitious in the updated NDC and the net-zero target as it would benefit Indonesia to hasten the arrival of its peak emissions year.

“If we set our peak emissions earlier, we will also reduce our emission reduction burden,” Yuyun told the Jakarta Post, adding that although the government intended the forestry sector to be a net carbon sink by 2030, the energy sector would still cause significant emissions as coal-fired power plants would still be in use.

“The forestry sector net sink would be a sacrifice for other sectors so they could still cause emissions. It’s a trade-off that we should not have,” Yuyun said.